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Little Free Library Love

Since launching our Little Free Library at the beginning of April, we have had some great experiences.

1. Amazingly generous donations.

We started out buying books for the Little Free Library. There is no shortage of books for all ages to purchase on Marketplace and often for very reasonable prices. Very soon we realized that it was going to take a lot of books to keep our library stocked (yay!) and that we needed to source larger volumes.

After putting an "In Search Of" ad on Marketplace, we were quickly overwhelmed by the incredible generosity of Calgarians who offered boxes and bags full of their used books. In just a matter of days we had more books that we knew what to do with and needed to put a hold on the ad with information on how to donate books to Calgary Reads (more about this fantastic organization below).

2. Fantastic book finds.

Not only were we overwhelmed with the quantity of books, but also with the quality. One of the goals of the Little Free Library is to provide quality literature to children and adults in the neighbourhood for free. One easy way to identify "good" books, without judging a book by it's cover 🤪, is to look for award winners. Check out the selection of Newbury Medal Winners (awarded for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children) that we found in boxes from just the first day of donations!

3. Finding Calgary Reads and the Little Red Reading House.

If you live in Calgary and you haven't heard of the Little Red Reading House, or the Calgary Reads program (like us before this week), you are in for a treat!

Calgary Reads is a Calgary-based non-profit that has been advocating for early literacy and distributing books to children since 2001. The Little Red Reading House is part of their work.

As described on their website:

Located in Inglewood, the Little Red Reading House is a two-story house in a historic Calgary neighbourhood. It’s a place you can visit so children can experience the joy of reading in an environment created for that sole purpose.

The more we learn about this program, the more amazing it seems. Some of the incredible services they provide:

  • Visit the house: your family gets the whole house to yourselves for a full hour (covid safety), as well as each reader gets to pick a new / like new book to take home

  • Book donations and reading spots at many places throughout the city such as Families Matter, Discovery House, CUPS

  • Book supply for Little Free Library Stewards: as many books as often as you need!

  • Information on how to set up a reading area in your home or organization (so so cool)

  • Book clubs and workshops for parents and families on how to engage children in reading as well as how to become a more engaging parent reader!

“Adults admire their environment. They remember and think about it, but the child absorbs it. The thing the child sees are not just remembered. They form part of the child’s soul.”

-Dr. Maria Montessori

4. Deeper connection with the community

After only four or so weeks of having the Little Free Library up and running, we have already connected with and engaged with a number of neighbours who we had not previously. This results from either chance encounters at the library and discussions that have led to deeper connections, as well as countless other small connections such as friendly waves, and even in one case, connecting with a neighbour online who saw the library and recognized us online.

5. Learning about the benefits of reading and impact of providing books to young readers.

Data from Calgary Reads and the Little Red Reading House:

Did you know:

25% of Canadian children grow up in a home without books*

27% start school with literacy and developmental vulnerabilities*

40% lack the literacy needed by age 15 to enjoy lifelong benefits*

It’s a fact:

The single most significant factor influencing a child’s early educational success is an introduction to books and being read to at home prior to beginning school.

National Commission on Reading

A 1% increase in literacy skills could lead to a 3% increase in Canada’s GDP – $54B per year, every year – and a 5% increase in productivity.*

* IALSS 2003, Statistics Canada, and noted in the paper Literacy Matters: A call for action (TD Bank report)

All of this is fuelling our inspiration to grow and help our Little Free Library thrive!

Happy Reading!

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